chicama - getting ready for world's longest left

  • too many bags - not a problem until the bus filled up
  • scrappy town on the way
  • cane fields - reminds me of natal
  • another scruffy little town
  • the best transport!
  • balcony view 1
  • balcony view 2
  • sunset from balcony
  • that´s where the wave starts
  • street at night
  • 5 soles for this?
  • abandond building complete with pop art graffiti
  • same building - apparently it's a bar
  • the beachfront road
  • once upon a time in mexico

On Wednesday the 15th of July, after my session with the caballitos, I decided to leave Huanchaco for Puerto Chicama - only 2 or so hours away and home to the world's longest left. I decided to save money and rather than going on some organised trip I took a local "collectivo" (much like the minibus taxis back in south africa), then a local bus to Puerto Malabrigo a.k.a Puerto Chicama.

This was an excellent decision that brought back some travelling spice - the past few weeks had been too easy, taking posh touristy buses etc. Just sitting on grotty buses with locals, and having to speak Spanish to find out when to get off, what bus to take, arguing with the ticket guy about prices etc, is the kinda stuff that makes travelling here so exciting. The collectivo ride was interesting, there I was, the only gringo, taking up 3 seats with my rucksack, daypack and surfboard, wearing my dark shades to try and looking slightly mean, and people were climbing on giving me that "My, my aren't you the king of the mountain taking up all theses seats and we have to stand".

When I got to Trujillo I was told I had to stand on the side of the road and wait for the next bus that said Puerto Malabrigo. It wasn't long before one came along and I waved it down. I asked the guy where I could put my board and he showed me to the trunk in the back of the bus, which was empty so I was pretty chuffed knowing my board would be safe. Of course I quickly realised that eventhough this is a surfing area this guy had no clue on how to treat a board. He put my board down and then proceeded to throw my rucksack on it. I yelled at him and then felt bad, and asked him politely not to put anything on the board as it is fragile. He then said I had to pay 4 soles (almost as much as my own ticket) to transport the board. When I got on the bus I had a bit of a fall out with the guy.....again. He ca­me up to sell me the ticket saying it was 4.50 for me and 4 for the board, eventhough the sign said 2.50 to Chicama. Again I raised my voice (I sound like a grumpy bastard but there have been so many people trying to scam me in Peru that now I've decided to be really tough about it) and said "No, no, no! No es quatro y cincienta para Chicama!!!! Es dos y cincuenta!!!" and pointed to the sign. He said I was wrong because the Chicama up there was a little village up the road and he was sure I meant Puerto Malabrigo. I then looked at the directions I was given and realised he was right, swiftly apologised, put my headphones back on and buried myself in my seat as by then all the locals on the bus were staring.

A really memorable moment on the ride was when a women was dropped off outside a little hut/house and these 2 little kids (a boy and a girl) came running out with the biggest smiles I've seen and threw themselves at her - I presumed it was their mom who'd been away, or maybe she just had sweets.

When I arrived in Chicama, I was totally blown away. THIS, again is what travelling is about. It's a port village with nothing much around, just a little village centre made up of old rundown houses and shops, a few fishing boats next to the peer, and sandy hills in the distance. I got off the bus and asked a motortaxi (3 wheel motorbike taxi) to take me to the hostel. I thought it looked brilliant - this little bike with a massive rucksack on it and a board sticking out both sides. I took a picture and the driver laughed and said every surfer he drops off takes the same photo, so his face is all over the world.

The hostel - called El Hombre (The man) -  was something straight out of a surf travel book. Just a little place on the top of a hill, overlooking the infamous section, with the beach right on the doorstep. I arrived as the sun was setting, and it sets perfectly in front of the balcony leading off my room. The owner Dorris, and her sister, took me in like I was a celebrity when I told them I was from South Africa - I felt terrible because they're gonna be so disappointed when they see me surfing. They were also very surprised that somebody from SA could speak Spanish and actually complimented me on my Spanish - I guess all that time trying to chat up Argentine, Bolivian and Peruvian girls is finally paying off. Dorris's sister (who now lives in California and whom I need to ask for her name) is mad about surf and has spent 3 months in South Africa surfing J-bay with her husband and son. She told me she wants to send her son to study there at some sort of surf academy. I also met Dorris's dad, who I presume is El Hombre. A friendly old guy with a walking stick who speaks really fast. He told me that while I'm here, his family is my family and his house is my house. Again, he was very impressed with me being from South Africa - with moments like these I'm even more sure I want to move back to my home country!

Yes, my room smells a bit like dog pee or something strange (which has subsequently disappeared), but at 15 soles per night and with the waves sounding so close I fear I might pee myself during the night, I think it's a steal. Writing this, I've got my door and windows open and the sea breeze and wave sounds are flowing  through the room. In some ways, no, in many, many ways, I wish I had come here the day I bought my board in Huanchaco, but the philosophy for this trip, is "no regrets", so I'll forget I said that.

I walked down to the village this evening to find a place for dinner and felt like I was in a scene straight out of "Once upon a Time in Mexico". The roads are all dirt roads and mostly deserted and there are tons of run-down, abandoned places. There was even one of those old long american cars complete with dodgy bumper stickers and I wondered when some guy with a shotgun would walk out of one of the seemingly abandoned buildings. Of course when I realised I was walking around with my wallet and mobile phone in my pocket my feeling of excitement and awe quickly turned to "You idiot, you're gonna get mugged here" and so I walked into a little place selling a set menu for dinner. It was chicken soup, complete with chicken feet, and then a spicy chicken stew - all this for only 5 soles (about 1 pound). That means if i have 3 of these meals per day plus my accommodation, in theory I should only spend 30 soles (about 6 pounds per day) which means I could live here for, let's see.....quick thought - "Joao and Bron, anyway you guys can maybe postpone your wedding for give or take 5 years?".

Weird thing about dinner though was that they had the tv tuned into a channel that had one of these kid talent shows on. Call me normal, or maybe it's a cultural difference, but I found it somewhat disturbing that there was a show in which 5 year old girls were gyrating and thrusting in very inappropriate ways to a Spice Girls song, followed by a 5 year old boy, air humping to a reggatone song where the lyrics were "Push it, push it, oh yeh push it girl!". Apart from that, dinner was a pleasant experience.

Dorris's grandson, and his friends are here and are your typical teenagers getting up to no good - they've spent the past 15 minutes lighting fireworks off the balcony, somewhat ruining the serenity that this place has to offer, but then I was that age too and got up to some pretty cool stuff with fireworks, so they're forgiven...this time.

(Next day) - Foot is still not great, and the frustration continues. Had a great lunch consisting of the freshest fish I've had in ages abd thensat outside catching up on work and watching the surf all day. I've decided that by Friday, no matter what the foot looks like, I'm strapping it up real well, and going in the water!